Navigating Relationships in High School

Advice from a counselor about friendships and relationships

Amy Collins, Staff Writer

Navigating friendships in high school can be a very difficult task, as high school is a time of change and personal growth. As people change and mature, it is common for friends to go their separate ways. 

Many high school students experience a breakup whether it is in a friendship or in a relationship. 

Counselor April Henke knows firsthand what it is like to go through a friendship breakup, even as an adult. 

“It can be saddening,” she said. “It also, depending on the situation, can be a good situation [if] you decide that person wasn’t good for you mentally.” 

Having good friends is extremely important as high school is full of ups and downs. Whether it’s a friendship or a relationship, it’s important to make sure the people in your life value you and have good friendship qualities.

“They have to be very trustworthy — that’s the biggest thing for [a] friendship because your friends are the people you tell things to so you have to trust they are going to keep that information,” Henke said. “Whether it’s a friendship or a partner, I don’t think that matters. Either way, you want them to be trustworthy and honest.”

It’s also important to recognize red flags in friendships and relationships. Henke believes one of the most important things to look for is someone that validates your feelings and supports you. 

“A lot of times you just have to trust your gut and ask yourself, ‘Does a person feel right to you?’’’ Henke said. “Also if you’re talking to them and they don’t support you [or] if you’re saying, I want to do this or I feel this way about something [and] they’re going against what you [say or] feel, that’s a red flag.

Getting in an argument with a friend is normal and does not mean you have to end the friendship. Henke recommends working through arguments with your friend so you both can move on and not hold a grudge against each other. 

“Be open and honest; try to have a conversation face to face — no texting [or] social media,” Henke said. “Meet with them and have a conversation. Be honest about how you feel.”

She also recommends reflecting on your friendship and how that person benefits you.

”I would say make a list of all the positive reasons why that person has impacted your life so that you can share that with them and tell them why you feel like the relationship is worth saving for you,” Henke said.

Many people experience their first romantic relationship in high school. This also means that many go through their first breakup at the same time, which can be extremely hard and scary to navigate. Henke knows how difficult it can be to experience a breakup but believes failed relationships are learning experiences.

“Don’t worry about it — everything [will] be all right,” Henke said. “There’s going to be plenty of time in your life for you to find the person.”

As the saying goes, people come into our life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

“You just have to figure out who you need in your life and who you don’t,” Henke said. “If that person is meant to be in your life, you’ll work it out. If they’re not then move on because there are plenty of other people out there that will help support you to be the best person you can be.”